Fresh Meadows run honors life of fallen - October 20, 2006

by Adam Pincus

The tight-knit community of students, family and alumni of St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows was joined by firefighters and running enthusiasts to celebrate the life of Capt. Vincent Giammona, a graduate of the school who died in the collapsing towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

Giammona's family organized the third annual Capt. Vincent Giammona Memorial 5K Fun Run on a cool and clear fall day Saturday morning, with the proceeds going to create a student scholarship in his name.

About 350 runners participated in the 5K, with scores more attending in support. The day began with a Pee-Wee Race 50-yard dash for small children, followed by the main event.

Paul Mannix, who serves as battalion chief in Fresh Meadows, knew Giammona as an energetic and humorous firefighter, and came to the run to honor those who died in the terrorist attacks.

"I am here to remember Vinnie and all the other people murdered on 9/11. We didn't just lose them. Because people are forgetting," he said.

Giammona, who turned 40 on Sept. 11, 2001, was a lieutenant with Ladder Co. 5 in Manhattan and died while responding to the attacks. He was the son of Dorothy and Firefighter Vincent Giammona and was survived by his wife Theresa and children Francesca, Toni-Ann, Nicolette and Daniella.

He was posthumously given the rank of captain.

The lead organizer for the run was Giammona's younger sister, Linda Giammona, who wanted not only to honor him, but others who died in the line of duty.

"The community in general has been so responsive to this event, it has never been this large," she said. "The money has been raised by a lot of people who sent what they could contribute from all over the country."

She said more than $23,000 was raised to create a scholarship for students at St. Francis Prep who otherwise would not be able to attend the school.

The top male winner in the race was school faculty member Chris Mendolia, 35. The top female was borough resident Elizabeth Briasco, 14.

Linda is married to Firefighter Timothy Julian, assigned to the Corona-based Ladder Co. 138, a fire house that has been involved in a number of volunteer efforts.

City Sheriff Lt. Tom Doyle, a 40-year-old St. Francis graduate, said it was the first time he had run in a local race.

"I worked on 9/11, and this was the only right thing to do. Make a donation and run," he said.